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Updated Wednesday, December 19, 2012 at 09:54 PM

Peter Steinbrueck to announce run for Seattle mayor

By Emily Heffter
Seattle Times staff reporter

Peter Steinbrueck was considered an activist when he was elected to the Seattle City Council in 1997. He left 10 years later, he said, to "get back to civic activism."

Now, as the latest candidate to join the 2013 mayor's race, he's seen by his supporters as an antidote to in ineffective brand of activism in the mayor's office.

Steinbrueck, an architect and lobbyist, is expected to formally announce his campaign Wednesday. Besides Mayor Mike McGinn, City Council member Tim Burgess, state Sen. Ed Murray, neighborhood activist Kate Martin and commercial realtor Charlie Staadecker already are in the race.

Steinbrueck's 10 a.m. announcement will be at Pike Place Market, which his father, Victor Steinbrueck, famously saved from demolition in a 1971 campaign.

Peter Steinbrueck, 55, followed his dad into architecture and, later, public service. Steinbrueck has announced a campaign for mayor once before, in 1997, also with a speech at the Market. He was in that race for a month before he decided to run instead for Seattle City Council. He won with 71 percent of the vote and went on to be one of the council's most progressive and popular members.

Steinbrueck made a name for himself in three terms on the City Council by consistently opposing the mayor — first Paul Schell and then Greg Nickels. In an era of rapid downtown development, Steinbrueck was viewed as a populist and a champion for neighborhoods and addressing homelessness.

Steinbrueck's return to electoral politics has been anticipated for years. He said when he resigned from the City Council that he might run for mayor, county executive or Congress.

In 2009, hundreds of people "liked" a Facebook page begging him to run for mayor, but he moved to Boston instead for an architecture fellowship at Harvard University.

He has re-entered the public eye this year as a paid lobbyist for the Port of Seattle, opposing a basketball and hockey arena in the Sodo neighborhood, and as a paid lobbyist for a South Lake Union community group that opposes taller buildings in that neighborhood.

Steinbrueck, formerly of North Seattle but living on First Hill after his recent divorce, has already gathered endorsements from Real Change Executive Director Tim Harris, City Councilmember Nick Licata, and David Bloom, the former deputy director of the Seattle Church Council, among others.

Steinbrueck's campaign manager, Justin Simmons, wrote in a letter to supporters Tuesday that Steinbrueck will be "the most progressive candidate in the race, the candidate with the most civic leadership experience, the only candidate with real urban planning expertise, and the candidate who I believe will generate the broadest base of support in the neighborhoods and in the social justice, environmental and labor communities."

One of Steinbrueck's strengths will be his long relationships in the city. He joined the council as a newcomer along with Licata and Richard Conlin — now institutions in Seattle's city government.

"Peter was known as somebody who was really known for not just being a leader, but as someone with a lot of political integrity," said Harris, who in the past has supported McGinn.

Bloom said in an interview that Steinbrueck offers a consistent set of values and would give a voice to the neighborhoods, holding the line on what Bloom called "rampant development" in Ballard and other places.

"Peter is the kind of person who I think has a consistent set of values and will stick to those values," Bloom said. McGinn, he said, has been "all over the map."

Emily Heffter: 206-464-8246 or eheffter@seattletimes.com. On Twitter @EmilyHeffter.


GREG GILBERT / THE SEATTLE TIMES
Former Seattle City Councilman Peter Steinbrueck, at Pike Place Market, formally announced on Wednesday he will run for mayor of Seattle.




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